Remembering and Finding Stories for the Factory
Keywords:Factory, weaving ensembles, remember, stories, reimagination
This essay builds upon long-term practice-based research developed around Coelima, a textile complex founded in 1922 near Guimarães in Portugal, to explore the performative qualities of collective hand-weaving practices, or weaving ensembles, as collaborative practices of architectural fieldwork. The essay is structured into three parts. First, it draws on anthropologist Paul Connerton's argument that memory resides more in ‘incorporated memory practices’ (Connerton, 1989) rather than objects, to argue that weaving with Coelima workers and local agents can become an innovative mode of remembering and finding memories of the factory's life. The ensembles are explored as ‘events of the thread’ (Albers, 2017) to re-build the factory's unwritten and unsettling history since its deep economic crisis in 1991. Second, it discusses how two weaving capacities enacted in the ensembles – such as exchanging weaving skills on a re-designed loom and weaving’s duration – can benefit architects: to mediate memories and tacit knowledge while evoking long-term and ethical modes of ‘constructing’ stories rather than simply collecting them. Third, the paper suggests that weaving ensembles might be re-evaluated as creative practices of architectural fieldwork, which allow architects and planners to discover and use found stories as starting catalysts to reimagine the future of Coelima, and other places.
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